Axiom Zen , an award-winning design studio based in Vancouver, Canada, founded by Roham Gharegozlou in 2012, has launched the online game CryptoKitties on 28th November. Built on blockchain technology, it’s already has has gone viral. As of today the December 7th, the players have spent more than 8 million dollars, on an ‘asset’ with no tangible value. According to this report, multiple kittens were sold for ~ 50 ETH (Ethereum blockchain currency), or around US $ 23,000. The “genesis” kitten was sold for a record ~ 246 ETH (around US $ 113,000). A third party site tracks the sales.
Apart from the surreal valuation, the game provides a great way for beginners to interact with Ethereum blockchain.
The players need to first install MetaMask browser extension. They then login to the CryptoKitties site. Axiom Zen has created 5 Ethereum smart contracts. The users interact with those via their own Ethereum address. Through the site the users can buy, sell, and breed kitten.
The game was seeded with 100 “Founder Kitties”, and a new “Gen 0” cat is released every 15 minutes. The price for the new kitten is the average of the last 5 sold, plus 50%. The sale price declines over 24 hours until someone buys it. The players can sell their kitten via auction, with a starting price and an ending price, where the price declines over time.
The “Siring” in this game refers to the breeding of kittens. The player can put up their kitten for breeding, and earn ETH. Alternatively, they pay to get their cat to breed with someone else’s, and keep the offspring. Each kitten has a 256-bit genome, holding the genetic sequence controlling colors, whiskers etc. The players pay a premium for what they feel as a rare trait. Kittens with shorter cooldown time, thus breeding quickly, have higher price tag, because the player can quickly sell the offspring. Users can advertise their kitten. Currently one can’t see the genetic sequence of a kitten on the site. However, someone may soon crack the open-source code, and find out how to read the genetic sequence, allowing him/her to make breeding recommendations.
There’s a good FAQ to guide the new players.
It’s unknown how long the craze will last. If it lasts, people can get a return by reselling or breeding their rare kittens. Since the game is not managed by any central entity, even if the company shuts down, the players will still have their CryptoKitties on the blockchain.
Axioms revenue model:
Axiom has kept the money from the sale of the first 100 kitties. They take the money for the sale of the newly generated kitties, also a 3.75% fee of auctions and siring transactions.
15% of the Ethereum network traffic is dedicated to this game. However, traffic is so high that many transactions, like buying and selling cats, are taking long time, and multiple attempts. The question is whether the Ethereum network will be able to scale up to the real world apps in the future?
Mack Flavelle, the project lead for the game, describes that the project team has their task cut out for at least one year, with a list of product improvements. This include improving the UI. Currently an average person finds it hard to set up MetaMask, buy ether, and use it to transact. The project team plans to simplify these, too. Watch this space.